by Marina Mateva.
I started my jewelry business in 2009 when I married a Bulgarian guy and had to move from Saint-Petersburg (Russia) to Sofia (Bulgaria).
That was a crucial point in my life when I should have started my life from the very beginning: new language, new friends, new job!!!
That is how the idea of creating jewelry came to my mind. I started to create jewelry in Saint-Petersburg already and all the pieces were fast-selling. That is why I did not even think about any special ways to promote it.
When I moved to Sofia, I was faced with the fact that without friends / colleagues I don’t have a market anymore, and nobody knocks my door ready to pay for necklaces, earrings, etc.
At this moment I understood that if I have a chance and talent (sorry for being so immodest, but you need to be a little self-confident if you want to achieve success) to do the job I really like and turn it into profitable business, I need KNOWLEDGE on how to find clients.
This knowledge that it took me a long time to gain I want to share with you – ways to find jewelry customers:
(Facebook, Twitter, etc)
Like many jewelry designers I did not have a lot of extra money to invest into efficient advertising campaign. To tell the truth I preferred and still prefer to invest money in high-quality materials.
That is why the first thing I did was that I created group in all social nets I am a member in and asked all my friends, my husband’s friends, etc. to invite their friends and the friends of their friends to join the group.
All these attempts had their positive results: I had and still have a circle of people who know about me and the jewelry I create.
However, you should not be very excited about the number of fans who have joined your group. Understand that only around 10% of them will ever buy something and only 2-5% will become your permanent clients.
(Etsy, Artfire, Livemaster, etc.)
There is one more way to acquaint people with your works. Nowadays there are many people who want to be unique, and they search and are ready to pay for the one-of-a-kind designs.
And for you there is one more segment of the market. Of course, there are many advantages and disadvantages of this type of sales, you can find tons of articles on Rena’s website on this topic.
Anyway it is an infallible way to add a certain number of people to your client list.
I personally have more trust in sellers who have their own websites where they offer their products.
For me it is a sign that they are really involved in their business and do it on professional basis. You can see my article How to Create a Customer Friendly Website for more ideas and tips.
Creating a website is a really great, time-consuming work. However, finally you will get your personal online-shop and the clients that love and buy your jewelry.
Exhibitions, art shows and festivals,
I was very excited about my first participation in Prom market this year (such kind of market is held in Sofia every year in the beginning of March and aimed at high school graduates).
Actually I did not expect huge sales and stunning success (maybe only very deep inside) because many people come there to buy dresses and only after that start thinking about jewelry.
I mostly regarded it as a way to promote my business with quite small investments (comparing with TV campaigns). Just imagine how many people could pass your stand in these 2/3/4/5 days.
That is why I lay in many business cards, flyers and other information that can be useful for clients.
To my mind this method of advertising has a very positive last long effect because:
- your clients have a chance to touch and try on the jewelry pieces;
- other participants (designers, clothes shops) can offer you contracts and become your business partners;
- you will give out tons of advertising materials and provide people with your contact information that they can use in case of any occasions when they need something special for themselves or as a gift to their relatives and friends.
I can’t say I am a big fan of this type of sales.
However, this is a good opportunity for small jewelry business when you don’t have enough money to invest in your own shop, and in the same time give your possible clients an opportunity to try your pieces.
(I am pretty sure that you who are in the handmade jewelry business have been faced with the fact that many people say that yes, we saw your website, like your designs a lot, but before buying we need to see / touch / try.)
The success of this venture depends on many factors. There are a lot of obvious pluses such as:
- no rent payments;
- it is not your responsibility to attract clients.
Unfortunately there are the minuses as well, which are considerable enough:
- be prepared for your jewelry to tarnish if a seller doesn’t create favorable conditions for it, which means extra expenses for you;
- you will receive money only after the pieces are sold;
- you need to create more pieces / designs if you sell online as well (website, ebay, Etsy) which means double work for you;
- no guaranties of sales (for example in Sofia there are not so many tourists who stroll along narrow streets full of art shops as well as there are no such streets. For you it means that because during the period of consignment agreement you don’t have access to your products, it becomes a kind of long-term investment).
From this perspective I prefer the following way of collaboration:
“Clothes designer +
I am pretty sure if you look around you will find many nice clothes shops or bride shops that are eager to collaborate with you, because:
- when their clients come to them they want to get the complete image at the end (clothes + shoes + JEWELRY). For both parties it is a definite win-win situation: satisfied client x profit.
- you create jewelry exactly for clothes designs they sell that doubles their chances to command a ready market.
The combination of drinks, snacks, friends and jewelry works perfectly. The advantages are obvious:
- in such kind of parties almost all people who take part in know each other, at least they all are friends with a party host, the atmosphere usually is very relaxing and motivating to buy. If you have ever had a jewelry party, you know that very often your job boils down to giving info about the materials used and doing some corrections if necessary due to the fact that almost in every party there is a person who inspires, praises and promotes your designs sometimes even better then you do;
- it is a good opportunity for your clients to try and see the jewelry. Most of them usually say that “in real life” it looks more tempting.
- you can also take orders if your client wants exactly this necklace but in pink.
I assume you personally can add at least 1-2 advantages to this list.
Hotel’s gift shops
No matter whether you live on the seaside or in the city there are some hotels around. And they have gift shops where they sell souvenirs.
Don’t you think your jewelry can be a very nice and memorable souvenir for somebody’s sister / mother / wife / friend?
Prepare short presentation or PDF catalogue and send it the shop manager or go exactly to a shop and ask how you can contact a person who is in charge of range of goods.
It can become a stable source of income for you. Everybody knows how easily we spend money when we are on holidays.
I am absolutely convinced that from time to time you hear from your clients phrases like this:
“Oh, I love these earrings a lot but I am not sure my daughter / cousin / mother will like the style / color / size, etc.” or ” I want to buy something as a present but not sure what to choose”.
Your client gives you a sign that he is ready to buy something from you. You just need to give him a helping hand – GIFT CERTIFICATE!!!
The small business market is not a place for greedy people. You don’t have fixed capital and investors – your clients are your investors.
However, what you need to do constantly is to motivate them.
Offer your clients seasonal sales and incentives – 10 to 15% discounts depending on the amount of money they spent. Believe me you won’t lose.
I think you will agree with me that our main task is to create an atmosphere of Beauty, Comfort and Care in order to inspire our clients to invest money in our jewelry.
And never forget: One happy client will bring you many new clients!!! Is not it what we want? 🙂
Marina Mateva at Etsy
pretty and smart
by: pat barden
hey–incredeibly well written–’tis very, very odd not to be reading the usual–take good pictures, carry cards–the best point–lack of modesty is important for success. your idea of making the jewelry for the clothes athe shoppe you sell–very goodgood advice. ineed to take that advice–iffing the jewelry is fitting withe clothing it is sold nexto–that is a much eazier sale.
by: Kim in Ohio
I am going to consider very seriously what points you have mentioned in your article, as I, too, have self confidence, but have not concentrated on marketing. But I must say that your jewelry looks so elegant and professionally made, that with your marketing finesse and hard work, you could be very successful. Good luck in your work!
by: Marina Mateva
1st I want to thank you for your kind comments!
Hope the article will help you to find the new ways to promote your business!
To Pat: Photos, cards, etc. are important as well. However they dont make you sells, they just help to sell.
To Kim: Thank you!
Wish you luck with your business. Unfortunately, success needs 2 components: good product and good marketing.
Just wanted to tell you your jewelry is beautiful.
Thanks for the great article.
Pros & Cons of Consignment
What do you do in case of breakage or theft of items you have consigned? The shops usually say they won’t be responsible for any of that and I’ve been told to furnish a jewelry cabinet that will lock. But that’s not ideal either. I worry about consigning some pieces. Do you?
Pros & Cons of Consignment
by: Marina Mateva
To Barbara: Thank you very much!!!
To Anonymous: I prefer to collaborate with the shops that offer locked jewelry cabinets for my pieces (it helps to prevent either breakage or theft of items).